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USTA Southern Section Player Spotlight – Jewel Peterson

May 30, 2003 11:11 AM
Jewel Peterson - USC (photo credit USC Trojans)
Jewel Peterson’s career at the University of Southern California almost had a storybook ending. As a four time All-American, Peterson, from College Park,GA, had been to the postseason NCAA individual tournament in each of her previous three years at USC, but this past tournament felt special. She finished the 2002-2003 season strong, with a 29-15 record at singles and 24-16 at doubles. In addition, she entered the tournament as the No. 8 seed.


During the champinship in Gainesville, FL, Peterson look healthy and focused throughout the event, only dropping one set through the quarterfinal round of play. Then in the semifinal she took on Stanford’s Amber Lui. With the match moved indoors because of rain, both players elevated their games and put on an impressive display. For the first 10 games neither player could gain an advantage as they battled to a 5-5 tie score. At that point Lui, the tournament’s No. 5 seed, broke Peterson’ serve to go up 6-5. Lui then served out the first set, 7-5.

Deflated and probably tiring from a week’s worth of outstanding tennis, Peterson’s career at USC came to an abrupt end with a 6-0 loss in the second set. Despite the disappointing finish, Peterson’s 2003 showing was a career-best.

Lui later went on to win the championship, defeating Tennessee’s Vilmarie Castelliv.

As one of the top ten collegiate women’s tennis players this season and a semi-finalist at the NCAA Championships, Peterson earned her fourth straight ITA All-American honor. She was the first USC Trojan to accomplish this feat since Trisha Laux (1988-1991).

Soon after Jewel Peterson returned from Gainesville, she sat down to answer some questions posed by the USTA Southern Section.

1) At what age did you start playing tennis and what was your biggest tennis influence growing up?
I started playing tennis at the age of eight. I really liked Monica Seles because she hit with two hands on both sides just like I did.

2) What about the game do you most enjoy? Do you see any challenges in dedicating much of your life to tennis?
I enjoy the competition. You have to be willing to sacrifice your time and energy in order to devote everything you have in to being a great player.

3) What is your greatest tennis accomplishment thus far?
My greatest accomplishment is being named a four-time All-American.

4) Where do you see your tennis career going in the future?
I hope to be able to compete on the tour for years to come.

5) What advice can you give to young girls pursuing their dreams of playing tennis in college and beyond?
I would tell them to always be ready to learn and absorb as much positive information for their game and their schoolwork as possible.

6) Why did you decide on playing collegiate tennis at USC?
I have always loved the Los Angeles area weather and I knew that I was going to be in a learning environment. I also enjoyed my coach.

Peterson's Additional 2002-2003 Accomplishments

  • Finalist at the 2002 ITA Omni Hotels National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships
  • First Afro-American to reach finals of the National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships
  • Recipient of the USC Mark Scholar Athlete Award of Honor 2003
  • 4th year ITA All-American Singles
  • PAC 10 Indoors Flight #1 Doubles Champion
  • Recipient ITA Arthur Ashe Jr. Sportsmanship and Leadership Award
  • Semi-finalist 2003 Division I NCAA Women’s Singles Championships
  • Graduated May 16, 2003 with a BA degree from USC Annenberg School for Communication

One of USC’s most highly-touted freshman in 2000, Peterson broke into collegiate tennis as one of the nation’s top players. A 1999 graduate of Woodward Academy in College Park, GA, Peterson was the No. 1 singles player on her high school squad for three seasons (1996, 1997, 1998) and was named team MVP each year. She was twice named the Georgia Tennis Association Junior Female Player of the Year (1993, 1996) and ranked No. 1 regionally by the USTA Southern Section in the Girls' 16 and ranked 7th nationally by the USTA in 1997.

Other teams she has played with include: the Georgia Junior Davis/Federation Cup Team, USTA National Indoor Junior Travel Team, USTA Intersectional Team and USTA Team USA. With the USTA, she competed in Italy, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Paraguay and Brazil.

She won titles at the USTA Southenr Section/Duckhead Junior Super Circuit (1997), Atlanta City Open (1997, 98), Southern Closed Championships (1993, 96, 97) and USTA National Indoor Championships (1995, 97). In 1998 she was ranked No. 37 by the USTA.

 

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